(Read: Prologue 1&2; Chapter 1 )
He pictured Amy hanging in the root cellar. He knew she had to be in excruciating pain.
He knew because he had once hung in similar fashion by the hands of his father. He remembered begging his father to help him, but his father had just stood and stared at the gangly white body swaying before him. When he saw no sympathy in his father’s eyes, he appealed to his mother standing behind his father, blocking the only entrance to the outside world.
As he swayed like the pendulum of a grandfather-clock he was only able to see one of them at a time. He saw his father’s cold stare and then his body would sway and he’d catch a glimpse of his mother. Upon that glimpse he begged, “Ma, please…it hurts. Help me…”
Another sway… his father’s dead eyes…then another…his mother’s contrite smile.
“You are an abomination and as an abomination you will be treated as such!” His father’s voice thundered and echoed off the wooden planks.
As his sway continued, he watched both parents turn their backs and walk out of the barn. He hung that way for the remainder of the night and was let loose at dawn so he could do his chores.
The memory burned hot in his brain.
He remembered the hatred he had felt for them. He remembered the vow of vengeance he had made that night, and he remembered the day his vengeance was spent. That had been their reckoning day, and oh how sweet it had been.
The abomination’s reverie came back to present. He checked to make sure everything was ready. Satisfied, he closed his eyes and breathed in the smells of the cabin…the crackling fire…the mildew…the dust settling upon the newly lain sleeping bag, and tools. His senses heightened to the point that he could see, smell, taste, and touch the surroundings with his mind. He felt himself become one with the cabin.
He relished the moment.
He had always been that way, even as a child. At first the strong sensations frightened him, but as time passed, he realized he was special, and was indeed unlike any other. He kept this secret and told no one, especially his parents.
This revelation of himself created a euphoria that often erupted from his mouth in mad laughter. He tried to contain it as much as possible because he knew others would think him crazy.
He wasn’t crazy. No, not in the least…He was free. Free to be himself. He was free from the rules of humanity. He could do anything without regret. The silly emotions that governed others were meaningless to him. This freedom was exhilarating, but at the same time it made him different than any other person he had met. He longed to be with someone like himself. He had spent years searching for his person…he thought of all the women. Failures… every one of them… but that was okay because they had led him to his Amy. He had a good feeling about Amy.
With thoughts of Amy he opened the cabin door to a clear and cold night. The aged root cellar was visible from the porch. He adjusted the mask, stood for a moment surveying the crumbling stones, and then took a step into the night.
Amy hung limp from a splintered plank, that ran the length of the underground hole. The cellar was old. It had been built by Scotch-Irish immigrants during the early 1800’s. The hole was barley six feet high, so Amy’s long hair fell into the blood, tears, and cold dirt below her.
Amy Shivered. She closed her eyes to the dark and began to picture the two loves of her life, Sky and Rudy. Her heart ached as she pictured Sky’s smile and Rudy’s wagging tail. She determined, there in the darkness, she would live to see them again. Her love for them would be her survival.
A screeching sound of rusty hinges, caused her to open her tightly closed eyes. The darkness still engulfed her. She held her breath and listened intently. There was a brief silence and then a faint creaking from the wooden stairs.
Amy realized she was no longer alone. She heard footsteps, slow and methodical…
One…two…three…and then a pause.
Seven…eight…then breathing…slow rhythmic breathing…in and out.
Amy’s heart seized with fear.
Then with the strike of a match, her face was bathed with hues of warm gold. She squinted from the shock of light, and tried to focus. The flickering light threatened to die, but a dank breeze quickened the flame, and she found herself staring into red eyes peering through a burlap mask.
The eyes that stared at her were evil. She wanted to close her eyes as a means of escape but she could not…she was held captive within their red glare.
Slowly he pulled the tape from her lips. She wanted to scream but didn’t have the breath to do so. Weakly she asked, “Who are you…?”
Her question was raspy and barely audible, and like a razor it sliced at her dry throat. Intense pain causes her to suck air, and it added to her agony. Amy closed her eyes to the pain, but the tightly shut lids did little to alleviate her suffering. She opened them once again to stare at him through a watery glaze.
The fire from the match waxed and waned. But before the light died, he leaned into Amy, lifted his mask a little, kissed her bloody lips, and then licked her blood from his lips. He smiled revealing to Amy his blood-stained teeth. Then he brought the match to his lips and blew out the only light that had lit the darkness.
In the dark, he leaned into her body, positioning his left shoulder against her waist, and placed his left hand on the small of her back. Standing slowly, he lifted Amy with his shoulder just enough to release the tension in the chains that held her upside down. With a strong right hand, he inserted the key and unlocked the shackles around her ankles. The bloody shackle fell loose and swung back and forth from the wooden beam that ran the length of the cellar. He pulled her close and cradled her naked body protectively against his chest. Amy wanted to kick and bite him, but her body was so weak, all she could do was hang limp like a rag doll.
Taking one step at a time, he climbed the stairs with ease, and exited the root cellar. Amy shivered. The night air was noticeably colder than that of her cryptic prison. She scanned the area, already searching for a way of escape. Both sides of the small path was bordered by dense forest. Amy squinted and tried to see beyond the trees, but pitch blackness swallowed the view, so that the only thing remotely visible was the closest tree branches.
Looking into the blackness, Amy exchanged her fear for anger, and her anger for rage. She wanted to beat the shit out of this masked son-of-a-bitch! She wanted to kick her own ass for being so damn vulnerable. Silently she cursed her own body, for betraying her. She hated that her head rested against his shoulder. Everywhere her body touched his revolted in ager and disgust.
“Damn Him!” Her mind screamed but the only sound to be heard was the snow crunching beneath his boots.
Once inside, he laid her on the sleeping bag in front of the roaring fire within the fireplace. Without hesitation, he took a soft lamb’s wool, blanket from the back of the empty couch, and gently tucked it around her naked body. Then, through the mask, he kissed her right temple and whispered, “Don’t go anywhere.” She watched him leave the room.
Amy closed her eyes; her thoughts conflicted. On one hand, she was grateful for the warmth of the fire and softness of the blanket, but on the other hand, she was mad as hell and wanted to kill the monster who had put her in this place.
Hearing his footsteps, she opened her eyes to see him approaching, carrying a first aid kit. He sat on the floor and reached for her. She recoiled but the sudden movement sent waves a pain throughout her body. He paused for a moment and then began to wipe the blood from the nasty wounds around her ankles. She felt the softness of his hands as he applied antibiotic cream, wrapped each ankle with gauze, and secured it with medical tape. Amy closed her eyes and wondered why…why would he have caused her so much pain only to tend her wounds with such tenderness?
She felt a warm cloth being pressed to her lips. Amy opened her eyes to see his eyes shrouded within the burlap mask. His eyes were red, cold and hollow. They reminded Amy of shark eyes…nothing but a soulless stare. Fear clutched her heart, and took her breath away.
As she stared into the emptiness in his eyes, she felt herself teetering on the edge of insanity. Something inside her warned that there would be no return from such a fall, and so in self preservation Amy closed her eyes to the madman in front of her.